Friday, July 24, 2009

Why You Can't Get Paid For Blogging: The "Pay-Per-Post" System Explained

After disappointing results with the pay-per-click system, I started searching for a more surefire way to make a few cents blogging. That's when I came across PayPerPost, the site that claims to pay its army of bloggers to make posts on behalf of advertisers.
Now, this might sound like the first paragraph to one of my posts that would recommend a site, software or item to you. However, it's quite the contrary. It's just a euphemistic introduction to a post that will delve into the flawed paid-to-blog system.
Pay-Per-Post claims to have fooled 265,000 innocent bloggers into joining their forces. Let's hope that you don't become one of the disappointed people crawling out of their ranks. On the other hand, I am not going to apply the label of "total scam" on this site because Izea, the parent company seems like a bunch of good people have apparently made ads for a few big companies. Still, I will apply the label of "unsatisfying waste of time" and this is why.
To begin with, considering blogging your job takes the joy out of it; and as I've said before you can't create a successful blog without liking it. If you blog for pay, you make it a duty and therefore enforce pressure on yourself to keep doing it. Plus, the topics you'll start writing on will become forced and who likes raving about a brand of chocolate cake that tastes like cement?
And trust me, readers can tell when you're being forced to make a post; first of all, because of the fact that you have to announce that it is a sponsored post and second because you'll lose all your personality in any paid-for post. You may be thinking, "Well, they'll still like to read my blog." But the truth is, that nobody likes to read something that is a blatant attempt to sell something, which the writer is getting cash out of no matter how useful or charming. Thus, you might be seeing your readership tumbling rapidly after you start writing fake posts.
Also, there are strict guidelines that regulate your sponsored posts once you join and if you don't follow, you don't get paid. These include mandatory photos, average tacks, Google ranks, Technorati ranks, Alexa ranks, regions, blog hosts and more.
But even when you do loyally abide by these rules, you'll probably never get paid more than a few dimes for each post, that is if you get paid at all.
And if you were to take a look at PayPerPost's website, you'll quickly realize that it follows virtually all the rule of a spam site. The cheesy graphics, the made-up testimonials, the brilliant colours, the fake photos of users etc. etc. etc.
But not only does this apply to PayPerPost, this applies to pretty much all paid-to-blog sites. And for that matter, it applies to pretty much all work-at-home sites.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Comparing America's Top 2 News Magazines: Time and Newsweek Broken Down

These two covers, both taken from the same week, tell a whole lot about this battle.

Time Magazine, the often quoted, well-respected news magazine that just about every businessperson reads. And Newsweek, the not-so-often quoted, not-so-respected, often forgotten, but still considerably well-read news magazine. In this sort of a battle, we almost always, automatically say that Time is quite a bit better than Newsweek. However, don't be so quick; Useful Crap has formulated 7 criteria to evaluate the quality of news of these two prominent United States magazines. This means that how well-designed the magazine is, how good the paper feels, how cluttered the site is, how appealing the logo is and how affordable the subscription is, don't count towards determining who's better in this examination. So let's get started:

1. Conciseness

While Time's articles extend on and on and on, Newsweek's rarely exceed two pages. You may say that detail is a good thing but sometimes, you simply want to get to the point and I often find myself taking a peak at how many pages are left to read in some of Time's articles while I know Newsweek can pack quite a bit into the few paragraphs that are used. In addition, Time has a habit of burying the lead; in other words, making people wait to find the main point while Newsweek is much more succinct. So if conciseness is the game then Newsweek takes the cake.

Time: 0 Newsweek: 1

A somewhat surprising start; let's see if Newsweek will hold on.

2. The Intrigue Factor

There isn't much of a question of who wins in this battle. Although Newsweek makes a decent case for itself with a few small special reports, a new "Conventional Wisdom" poll and a highlight on opinion-based pieces, Time easily triumphs. The latter produces plenty of lengthy specials all pleasantly titled as well as articles that are more fascinating in the nature of the topic (who doesn't want to read about Bush and Cheney's last days?) and the always entertaining Best and Worst Lists

Time: 1 Newsweek: 1

One of these magazines will really make a run for it now. Let's see which one.

3. Importance of News

Ah, what else can be faulted of Newsweek but it's notorious track record of reporting more on insignificant side-news than anything else. These days, while Time spits out articles regarding stem cells and Obama's health care plan, Newsweek is lulling on why Britney Spears is good for you. So what can I say, when you're closely affiliated with CNN, the most trusted name in news (as Time Magazine is), who can fault you one what you cover?

Time: 2 Newsweek: 1

Hey, don't rule good ol' Newsweek out yet.

4. Range/Variety

This has to be the most obvious one. One glance at the link bars on the top of both Time and Newsweek's websites and you'll see what you need to know. Time has sections regarding the U.S., World, Politics, Biz and Tech, Health and Science, Entertainment, Travel as well as People. On the other hand, Newsweek shies in comparison, with only the first five. But that's not the whole story. Newsweek essentially limits itself to those five topics while just peering at Time's homepage will show you that right beside each other are three articles: "Puppies Behind Bars", "Apollo 11's Next Giant Leap", and "Asia's Easy Money Bubble Fueling New Bubbles".

Time: 3 Newsweek: 1

Just like its parent company's (The Washington Post) neighbourhood baseball team, Newsweek is losing again.

5. Quality of Journalism

Despite Time's massive workforce that pumps out the most-read articles day after day, you have to give credit to Newsweek for its efforts. With a smaller workforce, Newsweek actually has recruited some of the better journalists who are dwelling in the shadows. If you actually decide to tune into Newsweek for a little while, you'll probably find their more opinion-based articles a lot more stimulating and entertaining, even if they concern generally petty subjects. Time's articles are packed with hard facts that are tough to remember but Newsweek might actually be fun to read. Not to mention the conciseness.

Time: 3 Newsweek: 2

6. Graphics

This is really tough one; but the final question that it came down to was: "Do photos truly contribute to the insights of the actual article?" And I say, no. Time Magazine not only includes good articles but some of the best photos out there as well. They make news beautiful. But of course, that doesn't count. Time does come out with cool graphics and this might be controversial, but I think that Newsweek wins this battle. "News/Week" a bar at the bottom of every Newsweek page is one of the most useful and innovative things I've seen on a website. It's quite simple but very effective, highlighting the most important articles in every section for every day in a convenient interface. Many other little things put Newsweek ahead in this department as well.

Time: 3 Newsweek: 3

7. Depth

So it all boils down to this. The depth. But there's really no contest here, unfortunately. While Newsweek is concise and easy-to-read, Time is a lot more in-depth. Simply compare the number of special reports and you'll see. Compare the number of videos, the number of photos, the number of pages in each article. And you'll see how much more detail-oriented Time is.

Time: 4 Newsweek: 3

So it was a good battle, but in the end, the victor was the more popular and more powerful, Time Magazine. Even after its complete re-invention, Newsweek falls short in a number of key categories. Time has brute force on its side with the amount of money it is able to spend on its quality. Newsweek doesn't have this privelege. And CNN is a good asset as well while the general mission of Time Magazine seems to be quite a bit better.
Still, they are both insightful news magazines and it may even take other factors to decide on your preference.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Subscribe to All of Your Favorite RSS Feeds- By Email: Feed My Inbox

RSS feeds have never been my thing. I have a knack for forgetting about them and hence, never bothering to check, even though I might like the site I'm subscribed to. Many people just haven't really developed a routine for checking their RSS, despite decent efforts.
This is the idea behind Feed My Inbox, an innovative website that allows you to get email updates on what's happening in any RSS feed. If you're saying to yourself, "Well, what's the point of that? It takes the same amount of time to check your email as it does to check RSS," then this probably isn't the tool for you. This is a tool for people who just can't seem to get used to delving into their RSS feeds every day.
On the other hand, most internet users have developed a routine for checking their email regularly. Feed My Inbox is perfect for people who prefer email over RSS.
When you enter their homepage, you'll see a simple interface; there will be a form asking you to enter the web page that you'd like to subscribe to as well as, obviously, your email address.
As soon as you press "Submit", you'll be sent a confirmation email that has simple instructions: Either click on the first link to be officially subscribed to your desired feed or click on the second link to be unsubscribed.
However, if multiple feeds are found on the page you specified, you will be prompted to select the ones you would like to subscribe to using a checklist. Then, click "Confirm", and you will be sent the same confirmation email.
Subsequent to clicking the confirmation link, you will receive any updates to the feed you subscribed to, by email.
In addition, if you want to be able to manage your feeds in a neater way, you can create an account with Feed My Inbox.
Also, if you manage a website or blog, you can create an easily accessible form that allows visitors to quickly subscribe to your RSS feed by email. (You can subscribe to my blog by email, through Feedburner's widget on the left.)
And if you're hungry for even more convenience, this page provides a "Bookmarklet", which is a link you can add to your bookmarks and click whenever you are on a website that you want to subscribe to by email. This will take you right to the Feed My Inbox confirmation without any entering URLs or email addresses.
Wow, that's a lot of features for such a small service. And that's the magic of Feed My Inbox, the site that lets you convert RSS to email.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Top 8 Things on the Internet That Can Start Your Day Off Right

The daily routine for many people involves waking up, driving to work, getting Starbucks, and then logging onto the computer. There, they first turn to their spam and might even take a peek at a few before emptying it promptly. After that, it's business as usual. Maybe angry letters from customers or a boss.
But it's a lot easier to start with something a bit more, say, idle. And since so many people seem to love to start with email already, I'll focus on email-related things.

8. Sudoku/Word Games

I'm not personally a huge fan of these, but obviously many people are because newspapers make quite a percentage of their money with these. But you don't have to go to a newspaper for these as many sites offer free puzzles sent by email. A good way to sharpen up before a meeting.

7. Word of the day

Amusing and educational, the perfect combination for a good day-starter (and it's not too fattening either). But not everybody loves a cool word. I sure do though; it's a great way to expand your vocabulary, have something to talk about at lunch and kill some time. has an excellent Word of the Day Newsletter if you're interested.

6. Photoblogs/Artwork

If you just wondered to yourself, "Photoblogs, that's a pretty good idea. Why is this all the way at number 6?" then this is probably a good thing for you. However, of course, this really isn't everybody's cup of coffee, so I can't put it at number one. But I personally like photoblogs, and subscribe to the Daily Dose of Imagery. If you want to access a whole lot of other photoblogs, is likely a good idea. And I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find a decent site that specializes in art either.

5. Good blogs

Maybe a decent sports blog, something about politics or even a personal blog; it just has to be a topic that you're interested in and that you enjoy reading. If the blog doesn't use Feedburner's email subscription tool like mine :D, then you could either take the easy path by using the RSS that is likely included (if not, read this) or use this.

4. Interesting fact or something to ponder

Another source of small talk, or something to laugh about early in the morning while you enjoy Dunkin' (or however you refer to it in the States), Starbucks or Timmy's (if you live in Canada or are an ultra-cool American).

3. Good news

Good news can cheer you up and comes in a quick and easy bundle from the good folks at the Good News Network. Here's the link to subscription. Basically, the Network broadcasts only happy news on pretty much any subject that CNN will cover (CNN takes the bad parts, the Network takes the good). And this is especially good in these times.

2. Joke of the day

This is a classic day-starter and has been around for quite awhile and is still pretty popular. And for good reason; we can all use a hearty laugh before a big day of getting grilled at a question session. Just be sure to go to my link for clean jokes or you might see a pretty noticeable pink slip on your desk a few days from now.

1. Quotations

Many like motivational quotes but sometimes a bit of pure insight can do you some good as well. There are motivational quote feeds galore out there and many other quote feeds as well. But the secret is to subscribe to this quotation feed, part of what I consider to be the most professional and complete quotation site on the web, ThinkExist.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The One Magic Rule to Blogging Success

A lot of different websites give a lot of different tips that you can follow in order to reach a level of success in blogging. There's the always common SEO techniques, social networks, guest bloggers, commenting on other blogs and the likes. However, none of these pieces of advice really capture the essence of a good idea that has turned sour.
Blogging is not about having the top spot on Google or about driving 500,000 people to your site each day. It's really a life lesson just like a lot of things. That's right, bloggging is a life lesson. And the life lesson is that you have to enjoy what you're doing.
The blog has been over-glamourized for about a half-decade now. It's been called everything from the thinking man's memo to the way to the future. Everybody basically has a blog and some passionate bloggers spend hours and hours on each of their ten blogs.
That number sums up to over 200 million weblogs worldwide. That's a lot. If each of these blogs had only 25 posts (a pretty conservative estimate), you'd have to sit on26,455,026 flights from New York to Los Angeles, reading non-stop, to be able to get through all these.
So attaining fame by this means isn't exactly the best path. And it sure as heck isn't the easiest. You're not getting very many visits to your blog before at least 3 years. It's not impossible to have fantastical post that would suddenly surge to the top of Google and give you 1 million hits on your first day, but it doesn't happen often. (And trust me, I've dreamed of this many times before.)
Sometimes you just unwillingly follow the "10 Tips for Immediate Blog Traffic" but find that even doing this takes time. You have to implement a lot of things, from meta tags to a Digg counter to even subscription by email. Then, you've gotta promote, which often takes away a lot of your life. You have to act as the annoying telemarketer always adding links into your email signatures and forum signatures and everything else. And you can't forget learning internet codes, which takes days and days and you still only know the basics. You have to design all the graphics, add little widgets. In fact, I even have a checklist of all the things I need to do to a blog before I make my first post.
And the posting is the hardest. Many sites tell you to have a regular "Tuesday Ramble" or "Noon Hour Laurel" or something of the sort. Trust me, it's not easy doing that. I've never even made an attempt because that's just too much of a commitment.

On the other hand, you can do all of this. It's not hard. In fact, it's easy. But there's one condition. You have to love to blog. You have to love to go after research and make up exciting leads and struggle through the first few years. You have to love to see the results of all your codework and listen to criticism and delete spammy comments. Customizing and creating labels and titles have to be your things.
It's not something just anybody can stay with until the end. But if you keep doing all this, for three years. I guarantee you that you will have a successful blog. Blogging isn't rocket science, it's just a grueling process. It's not like inventing a new gadget or writing a poem. Blogging is about passion, not intelligence or literary skills.
I'll admit, you're only 1 of about 10 visitors I get every day. But maybe this will be my magic post. Never say never.